Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Toilet paper mania grips Taiwan

Empty shelves of toilet paper are pictured last Friday at a Carrefour store in Taipei.
上週五台北某家家樂福的衛生紙被民眾一掃而空後,空蕩蕩的貨架 。

照片: 中央社
Photo: CNA

Following speculation of price increases which led to a wave of panic buying of toilet paper, on Thursday last week Fair Trade Commission Deputy Chairman Perng Shaw-jiin said the watchdog had already set a date for talks with paper companies, distributors and other associated businesses to assess the situation, and added the discussions will be completed as quickly as possible.

After talk of price hikes for domestic toilet paper, wholesalers confirmed that increased costs would be reflected in the sales price as soon as mid-March. Reports that one multipack of toilet paper was expected to increase by as much as the price of a standard boxed lunch unleashed a wave of panic buying across the country.

Perng stated that as soon as the news broke, the commission opened an investigation that was given top priority and added staff were mobilized immediately to carry out a continuous schedule of stringent checks.

The commission on Wednesday last week inspected retail outlets including RT-Mart, Carrefour, A-mart, Pxmart and Costco and found the situation of toilet paper shortages had improved considerably. Perng confirmed the commission will continue to carry out round-the-clock inspections and said if any restrictions on supply are uncovered it will open an investigation and assess market conditions.

Additionally, last Tuesday the commission convened a conference on “Promoting competitiveness and prohibiting toilet paper price fixing” to warn against collusive practices, during which it said that if any evidence of illegal behavior is uncovered, the businesses or individuals concerned will be punished severely.

(CNA, translated by Edward Jones)


1. speculation n. 喊漲 (han2 zhang3)

2. panic buying v. phr. 搶購 (qiang3 gou4)

3. distributor n. 通路商 (tong1 lu4 shang1)

4. wholesaler n. 量販業者 (liang4 fan4 ye4 zhe3)

5. shortage n. 缺貨 (que1 huo4)

6. price fixing n. phr. 聯合調漲 (lian2 he2 tiao2 zhang3)








A famous example of panic buying: The 1979 Oil Crisis

Iran is a major oil-producing nation and possesses roughly 10 percent of the world’s total proven petroleum reserves. The 1979 Iranian Revolution disrupted oil production in the country and caused global oil output to fall.

In the US, there was widespread panic over gasoline shortages, which resulted in panic buying of gasoline at gas stations, pushing the price even higher.

Although global oil supply had only fallen by 4 percent, the price of crude oil doubled to US$39.50 per barrel over a 12 month period.

Long lines formed outside gas stations across the US and it is estimated that Americans wasted up to 150,000 barrels of oil per day idling their cars’ engines while waiting in line at gas stations.

Many members of the public believed oil companies were artificially creating shortages to drive up prices. A telephone poll of 1,600 American adults released in May 1979 found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the energy shortages were real, 9 percent were not sure, and 54 percent thought the energy shortages were a hoax. (Source: Wikipedia and Investopedia)


1. Have you any personal experience of panic buying, such as before a typhoon?

2. Have you ever become involved in panic buying yourself? If yes, do you believe you were behaving rationally or irrationally at the time?

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